Every year an event celebrating science fiction, fantasy, gaming, technology, cosplay and the enjoyment of life comes up. Fantasticon is a convention drawing equal numbers of regulars and newcomers and I’ve attended every year so far.
The event is hosted by Dan Grubb, owner of Fantastic Books Publishing, my publisher. So, usually, I’ve been along for the fun and to support the bookstore, much enjoyed by convention visitors, where I’ve been on hand to sell the many books on display and sign copies of my own books for those who’ve bought them.
This year, due to osteoarthritis that makes the simple act of standing still painful, I had to reduce the visit to a single day and leave the book stall to others (Penny Grubb and her small crew of dedicated helpers).
Knowing I’d be in Cleethorpes for just one day, I decided against the usual hotel and took advantage of my brother Steve’s generosity. Valerie and I spent a few days in their Yorkshire Dales home with him and his wife, Alison. They make lovely hosts and their house is only a couple of hours from the venue. Valerie came with me to the same place that hosted the convention last year.
Cleethorpes Leisure Centre offers big spaces that easily accommodate all the many different activities and traders that make the event the exciting happening it’s become over the years.
Dan had arranged for Drew Wagar and I to hold an on-stage chat, informally discussing aspects of our writing. He’s also a writer of science fiction and, although we have different outlooks and varied interests, we’ve always got on well and have held these public chats before, generally presenting sessions the audiences enjoy. It’s a casual meeting of minds in which our discussion is natural and unforced and, in spite of my general terror at public speaking, something I’ve enjoyed each time.
This year it didn’t happen. Drew was unfortunately involved in a collision on the way and his car was written off. Thankfully, he got away without injury, but he was unable to attend.
Dan suggested Kate Russell take over his role. Kate, who I’ve known since she attended the first of the Fantasticons some years ago, is a professional broadcaster (you’ll have seen her on BBC Click, amongst other programmes). She’s easy to get on with, but I was slightly anxious about how I’d ‘perform’ with someone so experienced at public appearances. I needn’t have worried. Kate, a consummate professional interviewer with a welcoming and relaxed style, put me at my ease at once. We had a great chat on stage, entertaining the crowd and earning their applause.
The rest of the time, Valerie and I spent either relaxing in the VIP room or wandering around the venue chatting (for necessarily short periods) with all the regulars and taking in the atmosphere of general fun and enjoyment. I was able to re-connect with a couple of authors who attend regularly and met a few other writers, too.
Here are some more pics I took. I did my best to gather shots without the crowds, so the stuff on display could be seen. Enjoy. In the unlikely event anyone wants digital copies, please contact me by email and tell me which you’d like. Use the picture caption to identify the pic(s). You can use the ‘Contacts’ page if you don’t have my email address. I’ll send you copies of the large file(s) you’d like. No charge, of course!
So, an enjoyable day. As for the rest of our stay in Yorkshire, Gateshead (to attend a celebration of Valerie’s nephew’s exam success), and Ashby de la Zouch (a short break from the long drive back home) I’ll be posting items about the various places we visited over the next few days for those interested. It was certainly a worthwhile trip.